Ever wonder how you can get your home to look like those "model" homes we all see?  Whether you're designing to sell or designing to dwell, here's how to get that "I have to have it!" look. 

Make an entrance.  You never have a second chance to make a first impression.  The outside of your home is the first thing guests see, and like it or not, it speaks volumes about what's inside ... and about its owner.  Some glossy paint in a bold, cheerful color for the front door, new hardware, a fresh doormat and some seasonal potted plants will dramatically improve your home's entry and make visitors feel welcome.


Conquer clutter.  The most important thing most people can do to improve their home is to clear out, clean up,and get rid of clutter.  Be ruthless!  If you haven't used it in three months, box it up and store it away; if you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it.


"Less is more".  Don't forget that a cluttered look can also come from too much furniture.  Take a hard look at what you have and ask what you can live without.  Another rule of thumb; If you don't use it regularly, lose it.  Remind yourself that every square foot you free up is prime real estate. 


Float furniture.  There's a common belief that rooms will feel larger and be easier to use if all the furniture is pushed up against the walls, but it's simply not true.  Instead, float furniture away from walls, reposition it into cozy conversational groups, and place pieces so that traffic flow in the room is obvious.  Not only will this make the space more user-friendly, it will open up the room and make it seem larger.


Mix it up.  We get used to our surroundings, but they can become stale and stagnant.  Give yourself permission to move furniure, artwork and accessories between rooms on a whim.  When you move things to new spots, you appreciate them again and give your house a whole new look for nothing. 


Let the sun shine in.  Remove old, heavy drapery and replace it with something light, airy, and gauzy.  This allows natural light to shine in and makes a closed-in space seem larger.  Simple sheers on a tension rod are great for screening an unattractive view and providing a bit of privacy while still letting in lots of light and making a room look larger.  If windows are narrow, extend curtain rods a foot or so on each side to suggest width.  If your ceilings are low, hang rods at the ceiing line and consider window treatments with vertical stripes to create the illusion of height.


Make a splash with color.  Painting is the cheapest, easiest way to give your home a new look.  Even if you've always had off-white walls, take a chance and try out a warm, neutral hue.  You can always paint over it if you don't like the color.  If you're too timid to whip out the paint brushes, add punch with richly colored accessories, pillows, and throws.  When seasons change or you're ready for something new, these are simple to switch out.   


According to the Real Estate Staging Association, "Homes that are staged spend 73 percent less time on the market; typically sell for more money; end up on buiyers'  "must see" lists; are viewed as "well-maintained"; and have fewer concessions requested of the seller."